Minnesota Power updates Hydroelectric system at Island Lake Dam

The construction crew consists of divers working underwater

DULUTH, Minn. – Minnesota Power is currently undergoing a unique construction project on the Island Lake Reservoir. Crews are working  to replace several gates under one of its hydroelectric dams. It’s a two-year project aimed at modernizing the more than 100-year-old hydroelectric system.

“It’s a once in 100 year project,” hydro operations manager Chris Rousseau said. “It’s not often that you’re doing this kind of work, but we need to continuously invest in these assets if we want them to have the longevity that they’ve had.”

Almost all of the work is being done under-water, which means much of the construction crew is made up of divers. They are moving and setting parts about 30 feet under the water surface.

“It’s quite extensive what they can do under the water,” project manager Raen Schechinger said. “Especially here, the water is so clear that they can really see what they’re doing, and get positive video feed. They’re essentially doing this entire project under the water. It’s all dive work.”

The project is being done in two phases, the first of which should be completed by this winter. Phase two begins next summer.


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